Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Blood, Toil, Tears, & Sweat

I recently enjoyed seeing the movie The King’s Speech and am looking forward to reading the book by Mark Logue and Peter Conradi on which it was based. In thinking about the period in which the movie takes place, I realized that lately I have been enjoying many fictional accounts of people and places in Britain during the war years.

In the wonderful DVD collection Foyle’s War, Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle works to maintain law and order in wartime Britain. Because many of the episodes are based on actual events, viewers have a picture of the local constabulary coming up against not only criminals but also the power and intrigue of the military hierarchy.

The story of the German occupation of the Channel Islands is fictionalized in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Don’t be put off by the title; this is a well-written tale that both men and women have enjoyed. As the story is told in a series of letters, try listening to the CD version which has a number of wonderful readers taking the various roles.

For fictional accounts of the experiences of British citizens overseas during the war try The Information Officer by Mark Mills which is set on Malta, or A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute, the story of British women held as prisoners of war in Malaya.

Two more novels that deal with personal relationships during the war in Britain are Penelope Lively’s Consequences and The Night Watch by Sarah Waters. Even mystery writers have felt compelled to explore this time period in their long-standing series.

Working from notes left by Dorothy Sayers, author Jill Paton Walsh tells the story of Lord Peter Wimsey’s contribution to the war effort in A Presumption of Death. In The Blue Last by Martha Grimes' Inspector Richard Jury tries to solve the mystery of who really died when the title pub was bombed during the Blitz, all the while trying to sort out his own childhood memories of that terrible time.

As Winston Churchill knew, the British people endured years of blood, toil, tears and sweat during World War II. As we know, their stories are still inspiring writers and readers today.


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